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Proposed salary increase merits further consideration

A proposed revision that would have increased the salary schedules of Turlock Unified School District assistant superintendents by approximately 14 percent has been returned to District staff for further research and information.

Although namely one of the most dramatic increases, assistant superintendents were not the only ones aiming for the revision, as the proposal extended to all certificated district and site administration, classified management, and student support personnel.  

As outlined in the presentation given to the Board of Trustees by assistant superintendent of Human Resources Heidi Lawler, it was recommended that unrepresented groups undergo a five step progression, with the final step of each schedule leaving total compensation at 5 percent above the average of comparative districts.

 “We’re always looking to provide competitive compensation for employees, especially now in education when we have to compete with other districts in our county and other counties,” said Lawler. “We strive to bring in the best people possible and part of the means of attracting employees is competitive compensation.”

The original presentation proposed the 5 percent to be added on top of the percentage needed to reach the other district average, which was calculated using numbers from Merced City School District, Merced Union High School District, Sylvan Union School District, Ceres Unified School District, and Manteca Unified School District.

“For our presentation, we used comparable districts, which included some districts outside of Stanislaus County,” said Lawler. “These districts have similarities to Turlock in demographics and the types of positions they have, so they are more closely aligned.”

Lawler revealed during her presentation that many of the District’s affected positions are considerably below the other district average. For assistant superintendents, the District is 9.02 percent below the average total compensation of other districts.

Other positions that would have significantly benefitted from the originally proposed increase included the supervisor of maintenance, which is 11.56 percent below the average total compensation, and the inclusion specialist, which is 11.9 percent below the average total compensation.

Like the positions mentioned above, the proposed salary schedule revision took the percent that the affected positions are below the average total compensation and added the 5 percent increase present at the final step of the revised salary schedule.

Although a majority of the positions were below the other district average, alternative positions that were above would not have undergone such a dramatic increase, including the principal of adult education, which is 3.36 percent above the average total compensation, and the junior high principal, which is 2.88 percent above the average total compensation.

The decision of the Board to return the information for further research comes as a relief to Turlock Teachers Association President Julie Shipman, who argues that the comparisons used for the presentation were unfair.

“It isn’t right that this comparison was done in a way that isn’t comparing apples to apples, it was comparing apples to oranges to pomegranates to kiwis,” said Shipman. “They have to do an equal comparison in order to make a statement that these people are making enough money and these people aren’t.”

According to Shipman, she does not think that the District should have used five “random” school districts, three of which are not even in Stanislaus County for its comparisons. Shipman also remarked that the schedules for certificated employees were done in a different way than classified employees.

“When you don’t do things the same, it looks suspicious,” noted Shipman.

The proposal, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting, has been removed. Lawler reports that the date at which it will return to the Board has not been confirmed as of yet.